How receiver Samson Nacua stole the show at BYU’s pro day
Running back Tyler Allgeier was the headliner at BYU pro day, but opted out of running the 40-yard dash after a mediocre showing at the NFL combine in February
Samson Nacua insists he didn’t steal the show at BYU’s pro day on Friday at the indoor practice facility on campus.
A lot of people who were there would beg to differ.
With main attraction Tyler Allgeier, the only former Cougar who is likely to be drafted next month, opting out of the 40-yard dash and jumps, much of the focus shifted to the other four players trying to catch the attention of the 33 NFL scouts/representatives in attendance.
And while receiver Neil Pau’u, offensive lineman James Empey, defensive lineman Uriah “Lopa” Leiataua and Allgeier had their moments, Nacua shined the brightest.
Nacua, who played his final year of eligibility at BYU after four years at Utah, ran a 4.48-second 40-yard dash, surprising many with his speed considering he’s nearly 6-foot-4 and weighs 202 pounds. Unofficially, he posted 16 bench presses, a 32-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot-1 broad jump.
“Both. I am going with both. I don’t want to get in trouble. I don’t know which one to say, so I am going with both.” — Utah transfer receiver Samson Nacua at BYU’s pro day, when asked which school he will say he’s from if he makes it on an NFL roster
“Oh, no, I don’t know if I stole the show,” he said when it was suggested he did. “I looked at everyone today, and everyone put on a great show. … Everyone was competing with themselves, at the end of the day. Everyone put on a great show today and it was just awesome to see everybody kill it.”
It was probably the smallest field of pro day participants since BYU started putting these on some 20 years ago. Representatives from every NFL team except the Rams, Bengals and Vikings were in attendance, according to BYU officials.
Former players who are in the NFL, such as Khyiris Tonga, Taysom Hill, Harvey Langi and Kai Nacua (Samson’s older brother) also made their way to Provo to watch and provide encouragement. Former BYU quarterback Baylor Romney, who retired from football a couple months ago to take a job with Adobe, was recruited to throw passes and looked like he hasn’t skipped a beat.
“Baylor was throwing dimes, too,” Nacua said, telling a story of how they had to persuade Romney to come through multiple phone calls and texts. “We are thankful for Baylor coming out and helping us out. We really needed him today. And he put on a show himself, honestly, showing that even though he is done with football, he has still got it. So if anyone needs him, hit his line, for sure.”
On one particular throw, Romney hit Nacua 40 yards downfield in stride, with Nacua making an over-the-shoulder catch that drew applause from the crowd.
“I hit that post-corner, and he threw it right over my head,” Nacua said.
A reporter asked Nacua an interesting question after the workout. If he does make the NFL and is on one of those telecasts where players announce the college they attended, will he say BYU or Utah?
“Both,” he said, laughing. “I am going with both. I don’t want to get in trouble. I don’t know which one to say, so I am going with both.”
Nacua knows he probably won’t get drafted — he was saddled by injuries last fall at BYU and caught only 21 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns. He did lead Utah in receiving touchdowns in 2018 and 2019.
“I am fully recovered now, and what I bring to an NFL team is energy, big plays, some speed. After today, it shows I got some speed on me, huh?” he said. “But yeah, whatever they need me to bring, I feel like I can do it all: special teams, big plays. If they need me to play defense, I will do it, too.”
As for the 4.48 time in the 40, Nacua believes he was a little faster. “They may be slow on the clocks, but it is all good,” he said.
Having talked to a couple scouts before meeting with reporters, Nacua said they all told him he helped himself Friday, and got on their radar. He expects to get a phone call in late April whether he’s drafted or not.
“They were just surprised. They were telling me I came out and made a good name for myself, helped myself today. That was the biggest thing I wanted to do,” he said. “I know my name is probably not at the top of their lists. But as long as I can put my name on their lists, that was the biggest thing. I think I did that today.”
Allgeier is on a lot of lists, although projections for which round he will be taken in are all over the board.
BYU’s single-season rushing yardage leader (1,601, set in 2021) did 21 bench presses, a number which would have put him tied for third at the NFL combine in February.
Speaking of that combine, Allgeier said his best time there, 4.60 seconds in the 40 — is the reason he didn’t run it Friday in Provo.
“Shoot, I will just stick with the combine number, 4.6 flat,” he said.
CBS Sports called Allgeier’s workout in Indianapolis “disappointing” and said his 40-yard dash was “among the worst at his position.” Asked if not running Friday means he was happy with his NFL combine run, he replied: “Uh, I was OK with it. Yeah, I was cool (with it).”
Allgeier ran the cone drill in 7.09 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.34 seconds, both decent showings for a man his size (5-11, 224).
“I thought it went pretty well,” Allgeier said of the day as a whole. “This is just the icing on the cake — just to top it all off, especially with the season I had like last year.”
Allgeier said he hasn’t heard anything regarding where he might be drafted, or by whom, but it was noteworthy that he spent a lot of time talking to scouts from the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts. Allgeier’s late grandfather’s favorite team was the Colts, so he adopted them as his team growing up, he said.
Allgeier signed with the same agent, Justin Schulman of Athletes First, who represents former Cougars Fred Warner, Troy Warner and Chris Wilcox. What will an NFL team be getting in him?
“A football player,” he said. “A guy who can do it all — special teams, running back, whatever they need.”
Allgeier was a walk-on linebacker early in his BYU career.
Pau’u and Empey were eager to show that they have recovered from foot and ankle injuries that cut short their senior seasons last fall, and both accomplished their goals, they said.
“I felt really good about it. I hit a bunch of my goals,” said Empey, a four-year starter who checked in at 6-3.5 and 297 pounds. “After not being able to finish the season, it was just great for me to be out here and be healthy. So super happy about everything went. … Grateful for BYU for always making it special.”
Empey and Leiataua put up 23 bench presses each; Empey bettered his 40 time on his second attempt, going from 5.46 to 5.37.
Pau’u, who was leading the Cougars in receiving before he suffered a season-ending foot injury while scoring a touchdown against Idaho State, posted a 4.71 in the 40. Speed isn’t the big receiver’s forte, considering he’s 6-3 and 212 pounds, but he was happy to show scouts his outstanding catching radius in the drills, snagging some crisp passes from Romney.
“The 40 (time) is kind of a knock on me, but I think I was able to recover with the shuttle, the (cone) drill and my routes,” Pau’u said. “The 40 is not my best suit, I guess. But they were able to see other things.”
The 2022 NFL draft is April 28-30 in Las Vegas.